Broad scale ecological edge-effects are most likely common in urbanized landscapes prone to wildfire, but most edge-effect studies have focused on fine scale processes such as shade tolerance and seed dispersal. Evidence has suggested a shift from pine dominated to oak dominated forests at the interface of developed land and natural areas in the Pinelands of New Jersey with the presence of a large edge-effect due to fire suppression. The goal of this study was to assess the location, magnitude and mechanism of the shift from pine to oak cover focusing on distance to human-altered land as the driver of fire suppression and forest composition changes. Overall, fire frequency and upland pine cover decreased sharply closer to human-altered land and affected up to 420 m of adjacent upland forest. Other factors, such as prescribed fire and wetlands configurations may play a role in the interior forest dynamics, but trends toward lower upland pine forest cover and higher upland oak cover near human altered were dominant. The areal summations of distance from altered land and the use of percent change thresholds for determining the scale and magnitude of large scale ecological edge-effects could be useful to managers attempting to maintain or restore forest types in areas of high wildland-urban interface.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Forest ecology
- New Jersey
- Wildland-urban interface